From his dark, muscular physique, his spiky ‘fro and casual open-necked shirt, Dornik looks like an R&B star. But he doesn’t behave like one – at least not yet. It was a small show at London Fields Brewery for the up-and-coming singer, who was once Jessie Ware’s drummer (they are both signed to the ubiquitous PMR Records), but he was grateful for the band of early supporters who came down to “listen to my silly songs”.
Silly? Dornik is both handsome and humble, it seems. No wonder he’s caught the attention of so many and, judging by tonight’s crowd, discerning female listeners especially. Dornik’s sound is a bountiful blend of electronic futurism and soulful longing. Drive, his latest single, swelled with a sparky, 80s groove, while Dornik crooned intensely into his mic, filling the arched space with the heat of romantic infatuation. He is similarly emotive on the softly moving, Second Thoughts, adorning its delicate melody with a powerful longing worthy of Frank Ocean or The Weeknd.
Though omewhat stiff to begin with, Dornik gradually became more relaxed as he, and his band, drifted their way through his short set of dreamy love tunes. Opener Something About You, set the mood with its lagoon of mesmerizing synths and harmonies, and, midway through, the catchy Stand in Your Line lifted the energy like the stage’s neon lights cascading upwards.
His stage presence might not compare, but there’s more than a little Michael Jackson and D’Angelo about this talented newcomer. The only real disappointment was the briefness of his set. Though he offered the reason that his album, due this August, “isn’t even out yet”, the audience were left chanting for an encore that didn’t come. And based on his show tonight, even a cover or two would have been welcome. He has the music to serenade and, so long as he ups the ante with his showmanship, Dornik may well be the neon dream we’ve been waiting for.